Trader Joe’s GARLIC SPREAD (with Spinach recipe hack)


If you love garlic as much as I do, then you will adore Trader Joe’s GARLIC SPREAD . I find this stuff to be amazing. In fact, it’s become yet another TJ’s product I must have in the fridge at all times now. I think of it as much as an ingredient as a “spread”. You can use this and add it to a dish to give things an immediate flavor boost, kind of as you would fresh garlic.

A number of countries food culture’s have some type of garlic spread like this. In Lebanese cooking, they have the garlic spread, “Toum” (basically what TJ’s spread is). In Greece, they have a spread called “Skordalia” which is made from garlic, olive oil and potato. In the South of France they have the yummy yellow garlicky mayonnaise called, “Aioli” famously served with Bouillabaisse. Garlic with lemon acts as an emulsifier for the oil giving you a thick spread. Trader Joe’s version like Lebanese toum is an emulsified paste of garlic, oil, lemon juice and salt, traditionally made in a mortar and pestle. They did not skimp on garlic. TJ’s GARLIC SPREAD is so garlicky it’s not funny. True Garlic lovers will want to try this on everything. I came up with a great hack for Frozen Spinach, which you can make into a yummy dish in about 2 minutes with this garlic dip. See my recipe hack down below.

So what can you use this Garlic Spread on? To start with just try it on thin slices of toasted baguette, which will be match well with a salad or soup like croutons or garlic bread. This stuff is especially good for any pasta dish. Just toss in a spoonful into your finished pasta, especially tomato pasta (PESTO ROSSO? Add some of this to jazz it up! Use this instead of butter for cooking grilled cheese sandwiches. Put a little into your tuna or egg salad. Eggs, try some in an Omelet for some kick. Salmon or other fish, for sure. I’ve found it’s fantastic in mashed potatoes to jazz them up. Almost any vegetable dish will be enhanced with a spoon or two of this vegan garlic spread, so it’s ideal for vegans and vegetarians as well as us non-vegetarians. It was amazing on the CHICKEN SHAWARMA. Greek yogurt plus some of this spread makes and instant super easy tasty sauce. Here’s a recipe I came up with using spinach. This is a great tasting spinach dish in under 2 minutes.

SPINACH WITH GARLIC SPREAD HACK – Two ingredients: frozen spinach and garlic spread. Put the spinach in a colander and rinse it with water for about a minute until its defrosted. Shake or squeeze out most of the excess water. Toss the spinach in a pan with a little olive oil (or butter!) and cook for a minute or so till done to your liking (don’t overcook it) Add in a nice heaping tablespoon of the Garlic Spread and mix it in. Grind in fresh black pepper and a pinch of salt and its ready. It will look a little bit creamy and taste absolutely delish.

In fact most vegetable dishes will be enhanced with a spoon or two of this VEGAN spread, so it’s ideal for vegans / vegetarians to give a enormous flavor boost to most things. One thing to remember, it does have some calories as like a mayonnaise, its mostly oil. 2 Tbls have about 150 calories. Its $2.99. GREAT ITEM!

Trader Joe’s VEGAN BRIOCHE LOAF


Saw this yesterday at Trader Joe’s New Product area. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks pretty interesting if you’re Vegan – which I’m not.

Has anyone tried this yet? If so, please leave a comment with what you thought of this.

Trader Joe’s GREEN JACKFRUIT & recipe for Pulled BBQ Jackfruit


My DIY Pulled Jackfruit on Aloha Bun with coleslaw

Jackfruit is a tropical fruit, popular with vegetarians as a “meat substitute”. When cooked it can have the texture of “pulled meat” such as pulled pork or chicken or ropa vieja. It doesn’t have much taste but it easily absorbs flavors and sauces and it’s quite good cooked up with BBQ sauce as “pulled jackfruit”. Trader Joe’s carried a pouch of PULLED JACK FRUIT IN SMOKY BBQ SAUCE in a green foil pouch (see below) but it got discontinued. Alot of people liked it and I did too, despite not being vegetarian. TJ’s does sell this can of JACKFRUIT so you can make the same thing fairly easily yourself, just mixing this can of jackfruit with your favorite BBQ sauce. A can is only $1.99 too!

How does one use Trader Joe’s Green Jackfruit in Brine, you ask? It takes on a “meaty” texture, and, much like tofu, absorbs the flavors of sauces. Our favorite preparation involves cooking jackfruit in barbecue sauce, where it eventually shreds like pulled pork, ready to be piled on a warm Honey Wheat Hamburger Bun and crowned with crunchy cabbage.

UPDATE: This is in stores again.

what it looks in the can; frankly not too appetizing, yet!
after cooking the Jackfruit; Now it looks pretty good!

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/recipes/pulled-jackfruit-sandwich

HOW TO MAKE PULLED JACKFRUIT MINI SLIDER BUNS: After opening the can, dump the liquid out and put the fruit into a colander. Rinse the jackfruit thoroughly and drain it. To get the texture, I just used my fingers and crushed up the jackfruit piece by piece. The seeds you can mash or crush or leave as is. Sauté the jackfruit in a pot in some EVOO (or butter) for about 5 minutes on low heat, stirring it gently. Add your favorite BBQ sauce (1/2 cup per can?) in. I used the SRIRACHA ROASTED GARLIC sauce, a good match. Cover the pan and simmer on very low heat for about 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes or so and making sure it doesn’t burn. It will be thick when done. Turn off the heat and let it rest for about 10 minutes. When you are ready to assemble the sandwiches, put a scoop of the jackfruit on†o the bottom half of a TJ’s ALOHA BUN (or brioche roll). Top with some coleslaw and the top half of the bun. Enjoy! A bit messy to eat but quite tasty! 1 Can served 2 of us easily with the fixings.

Directions as per TJ’s website

(note I liked it without the water, or just a few tablespoons)

  1. Prepare Pulled Jackfruit: Drain jackfruit and pat dry. Partially shred jackfruit chunks into smaller pieces. In a sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add jackfruit and sauté for five minutes. Add BBQ sauce and water to pan and stir to evenly coat jackfruit. Cover pan and simmer on medium-low heat, 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally and pulling jackfruit apart as it becomes tender.
  2. Prepare Tangy Cole Slaw: While jackfruit cooks, in a large bowl, toss cabbage blend with mayonnaise and apple cider vinegar to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. 
  3. Prepare Sandwiches: Place a scoop of pulled jackfruit on the bottom of a bun. Top with diced onions, coleslaw, and bun top. Eat and repeat until satisfied!

Trader Joe’s SEEDS & WHOLE GRAINS CRISPBREAD Norwegian Crackers


These are really seedy, really crunch savory flats, made for us in Norway using the bakeriets proprietary process. The crispbreads make a wonderful snack on their own or are perfect with cheese and soup.”

INGREDIENTS: Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, wholemeal rye flour, oat bran, oatmeal, flaxseed, spelt bran, wheat bran, water, sea salt, oregano, thyme

I would put this on a Trader Joe’s Best Items list.

I love these crispbreads which are super crunchy Scandinavian crispbreads / crackers. These are good for breakfast, for lunch or for an appetizer/dinner. I buy these all the time, I have to have them in the house. They are super healthy crackers, absolutely loaded with seeds and whole grains. When I say these are “crunchy” I am not kidding, they’re stupendously, can’t hear yourself talk, crunchy. They make a good match with your favorite hummus or any dip or spread. They are great for those Scandinavian open faced sandwiches of course. You could load this up with some Lightly Smoked Salmon with a little cream cheese or mayo (see below) and you will be in Heaven (or Valhalla as the case may be). You can break them in half carefully to make a smaller size base if you want.

Salmon and cucumber on crispbread – open faced

PRODUCT OF NORWAY. 8 oz package is $2.99. I would buy them again.

https://www.veggirlrd.com/a-very-versatile-cracker-trader-joes-whole-grain-crispbread/

Get your Viking on! You can not get more Norwegian than these.

Trader Joe’s MARBLE RYE BREAD


I just checked out a new product at Trader Joe’s, their sliced Marble Rye bread.

Now as a native New Yawk’r – and a member of the tribe – I grew up eating rye bread so I know what a really good rye bread should taste like. So I can’t lie and tell you this TJ’s rye bread ranks with the best NYC Jewish bakery rye bread, however this Trader Joe Marble Rye is a very decent rye bread. Opening the bag, you do get that slightly sour & wonderful Eastern European smell of that rye bread has. This is not at all like crummy tasteless supermarket commercial rye bread (think “Levy’s” – ugh!). This is a decent if not stellar rye way better than that supermarket crap with zero taste and texture. Here is the most important thing to know about TJ’s Marble Rye Bread – it is especially good when it is TOASTED and that’s the way you should eat it. Toasting this bread really improves this bread and makes it show it’s potential. Toasted up and spread with some good butter, this rye bread is delicious. I always eat it toasted, and strongly suggest you do as well, even if just a little bit. Toasting it improves it 100%. I hope that point is clear. It will make a lovely sandwich or even a great grilled cheese! This marble rye bread is $3.49 for a 20 oz loaf. A bakery rye bread here in NYC is really expensive now, likely $6-7 a loaf – so this is a decent deal for a more than decent rye bread that you don’t have to go to a bakery to get. I would buy this again. If you like rye, check out TJ’s version. It’s adds a nice Euro variety to TJ’s breads on offer.

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC POLENTA (tube)


Trader Joe’s ORGANIC POLENTA; cooked; ready to heat and serve. Gluten Free.

Ingredients: Water, Organic Corn Meal, Salt

Just in case you are not yet familiar with Polenta, it’s simple and delicious. Polenta is inexpensive, healthy, gluten free, and vegetarian. Its just coarsely ground corn. That’s it. This Organic Polenta from Trader Joe’s comes in a plastic tube. Its been precooked which save you about 45 minutes. It’s ready to slice up into 1/2″ slices which you grill up into crispy fried polenta rounds. This is really yummy and cheap. This is why polenta has been a staple of Italian “cucina povera” for centuries, very similar of course to “grits” here in the US. TJ’s tube of cooked polenta is convenient, shelf stable, and is only $1.99. One tube can easily make a dinner for two. We love it as an alternative to pasta. I recommend you pan fry it as being the best way to serve this. The package also says you can bake it. Any way to get it crispy. Please don’t consider microwaving as it also says on the package!. For polenta to be tasty it is best as crispy as possible, as this way it gets a really nice chewy “meaty” texture.

As shown in the first picture is how I made the polenta into dinner recently. I sautéed the slices in olive oil plus a little butter to help it brown better, for maybe 10 minutes a side – note, this is double the recommended time of 4-5 minutes on the package. Trust me, you want to get this very golden brown and delicious. I flipped it over and put a bit of mozzarella on each slice which melted as the other side cooked. When it was ready to serve, I plated it up and spooned over tomato sauce, in this case TJ’s Roasted Garlic Marinara sauce which is quite good by the way. I grated some extra cheese, Asiago all over. This made for a delicious Italian dinner along with a little salad and crusty bread. Dinner for two for about $4 bucks.

I always like to keep one of these shelf stable packages of TJ’s polenta in the pantry as it can make an easy, fast dinner for those times when you have “nothing” to eat in the house. A tube of this and a jar of sauce and you have dinner in 10 minutes. Not to mention Polenta’s perfect for Meatless Monday’s. Would I but this again? Yes I buy this regularly, its an excellent cheap TJ product and a great staple to have in your pantry.

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/fried-polenta-5535085

PS DIY PAN FRIED GRITS – might be worth the little extra effort (cook the grits, let cool, cut into slices) not to mention even cheaper

TJ’s BLARNEY SCONE (Irish Soda Bread)


SEASONAL ITEM (ST. PATRICK’S DAY)

I guess someone at Trader Joe’s thinks naming this “Blarney Scone” is pretty funny, huh? It’s Irish Soda Bread just so you know, and not a scone. It’s quite good. Loaded generously with raisins (or are they currents?) I like this best sliced thin and lightly toasted, spread with good butter. Yum! The Irish Soda bread goes for $3.99 for a 20 oz loaf. If you want some, grab it up as I don’t think Trader Joe’s will stock this much more than a week or two around St. Patrick’s Day every year.

Trader Joe’s BREADED FRIED RAVIOLI


RAVE

Breaded deep fried ravioli? Doesn’t that sound a bit over the top? Still when I saw these, I was intrigued and thought I would give them a try. Well I have to say they are quite good, better than I expected them to be. First I should say we almost always try to “eat healthy”. I rarely eat fried anything. So frankly deep fried breaded ravioli is not something I normally eat or buy on a regular basis but hey this is the job, and reviews have to be done 😉

Having now tried them, I can tell you these fried ravioli are actually pretty yummy. The two of us totally enjoyed eating these, as a rare treat. I could see these as something you could serve once in a blue moon in small portions, say 4 or 5 ravioli, as a side or as an appetizer? They might be even be a tasty and easy treat to serve up as an hors d’oeuvre for company. One recommended method to make these is to Pan Fry them which is what I did. I used less than a tablespoon of olive oil, where as the directions say, oil a 1/4 inch deep. I don’t think you need more than a tablespoon or two of oil in a non-stick or cast iron pan. TJ’s says they are good done in an air fryer too. Once the ravioli looked crispy and golden brown, I drained them on a paper towel. The breaded ravioli were delicious, a little crispy on the outside and when you bite into them, full of soft melted cheese inside (5 kinds of cheese). Naturally these will be perfect with a bit of your favorite tomato sauce (fresh basil if you have), and they were delicious when I served them with some sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan. So give these a try if they sound good to you. A package (1 lb) is $3.99. They can be found in the frozen section…. Trader Joe’s says…

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/breaded-fried-ravioli-066183

“Each Breaded Fried Ravioli starts as a stately square of semolina pasta, filled with a mouth-watering mix of five kinds of cheese: creamy ricotta, mild Monterey Jack, rich mozzarella, savory Asiago, and piquant Parmesan. These Ravioli are then battered and deep fried to perfection, then flash frozen for you to finish the job at home. Once prepared (we find an air fryer to be particularly suited for the job), they’re everything a cheesy appetizer should be: warm, gooey, and phenomenally cheesy, with a crispy, savory exterior—a little like a breaded mozzarella stick, taken to the next level.”

TJ’s CANESTRATO PEPATO (Sardinian Cheese with Peppercorns )


Trader Joe’s CANESTRATO PEPATO Sardinian Sheep’s Milk Cheese with Black Peppercorns

I discovered this terrific cheese not too long ago in Trader Joe’s cheese section, and it’s become one of our favorite cheeses they sell. It’s fantastic and we adore it. “Pepato” refers to the cheese being infused with whole black peppercorns, as you can see in the pic. It’s produced in Sardinia, Italy by “an award winning cheese maker” ; The combination of peppercorns and a great sheep’s milk cheese is super. Up till seeing this I don’t think I ever encountered a cheese having whole peppercorns embedded in the cheese when they make it. It’s quite an interesting sheep’s milk semi-hard cheese that is both terrific grated onto pasta or just eaten on it’s own, cut into very thin slices. served with good bread or crackers. If you put this on a cheese board you will get comments. A piece is around $4-5 (its $12/lb)

Great Stuff! You can put this on your Cacio e Pepe dishes! Or even make it from scratch with this.

UPDATE: I haven’t found this for some time unfortunately !!! Sigh…..

Bavarian Bratwurst with Sauerkraut Combo


The combination of TJ’s Uncured Bratwurst with their natural Sauerkraut is pretty much a no-brainer.

Maybe the only question is whether you warm up the sauerkraut with your bratwurst – or just serve it on the side, cool, so its crunchier. You can make an easy and terrific lunch or dinner if you team up these made for each other items with a few more TJ items…. put the Bratwurst on some bread (BRIOCHE?) or TJ’s Brioche Hot Dog Buns. The mustard of your choice (Dijon with mustard seeds or Spicy Brown?).

Here I went with sautéed potatoes cooked up with the Bratwurst and sauerkraut on the side. These all made for a super dinner combo.

RECIPE: Sauteed Pan fried Potatoes – Cut up a few Yukon Golds into cubes and par-boil them 5 minutes or so in salted water. Add the drained potatoes to a nonstick pan with oil and butter and toss in a sliced onion. Cook for 15-20 minutes on medium heat stirring occasionally until the potatoes are done and golden brown. Make room in the pan, and add your bratwurst around the 10 minute mark and cook on both sides until browned. You can put shallow slashes to score them before cooking which will open up as they cook. Garnish with chopped parsley or arugula for color. Serve with sauerkraut and mustard. Serving Options: beer and bread (brioche hot dog buns or chewy sourdough)

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